Thursday, February 14, 2008

Better Bone Marrow Transplants?

Ultra-pure stem cell transplants and a wide variety of other applications may be possible using this device, which uses selectins to bind to specific cell types in the bloodstream:
In an upcoming publication in the British Journal of Hematology, King reports that selectin-coated microtubes implanted in rats can capture very pure samples of active stem cells from circulating blood. He gave a similar demonstration of stem-cell purification with samples taken from human bone marrow last year. Cancer patients often require bone-marrow transplants following harsh chemotherapy and radiation treatments that kill adult stem cells in the blood.

The purity of these transplants can be a matter of life or death. When the transplant is derived from the patient's own bone marrow--extracted before treatment--it's critical that it not contain any cancer cells. When it comes from another person, there's a chance that the donor's immune cells will attack the recipient if they're not filtered out. But current purification methods are slow and inefficient, King says. Those that rely on antibody recognition or cell size and shape typically extract only a small fraction of the stem cells in a blood sample; the rest go to waste.

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